By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer
Sunday, December 2, 2012 —
Toys for Tots is one of the most recognizable not-for-profit charities in the country. But until Tammy Sellers stepped in late last year, there wasn’t much of a local presence in Stanly County.
Now, barely a year into the new organization, Sellers is doing her part to make sure needy children in the county will be able to celebrate Christmas with a new toy. So did Mark Shue and The Guardian Nomads Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club.
Recently, around 20 riders left Tailgators in Locust and took part in a near two-hour jaunt throughout Stanly and parts of Montgomery counties to raise money and toys for the new Toys for Tots program. A $20 entry fee was paid for each bike or vehicle involved in the ride. The Whiskey River Band provided live music for the riders once they came back, and 50-50 tickets were also sold as a way to raise donations.
Shue, a long-time supporter of Toys for Tots, helped spearhead the ride, which raised $576 along with some additional toys.
“The great thing about it is there is no overhead,” said Shue, who previously did similar runs for Toys for Tots in Rowan County, where he is from.
“100 percent of the money taken in and 100 percent of everything goes straight to the kids. I’ve been involved in Toys for Tots for six years. It’s a great organization and 100 percent of what Tammy takes in will stay in Stanly County. This is the Guardian’s way to help out with her efforts.”
Shue and the group also have drop-off spots that people can leave new, unwrapped toys for needy children in the county. Flyers were distributed in local motorcycle dealerships and other spots in the county to make people aware of the benefit ride.
“This is the first year Stanly has its own chapter,” Shue said.
“What we are hoping is the Guardians will make this an annual event. We started from scratch and hope it will get bigger and bigger.”
Sellers helps her husband, Carey, run Together Everyone Achieves More of NC (Team of NC), a non-profit organization that assists in areas of tutoring, business plans and job readiness. Through that work, she saw the need for something like Toys for Tots.
Last Christmas, TEAM of NC collected more than 1,500 toys for needy children in Stanly County. A U-Haul truck was used to pick up and deliver toys that were collected from places that were used as pick-up sites along with the organization office, at 121 Pine St., Badin. The Sellers even helped out families on their own who came to them after the toy drive was complete.
In the past, Stanly County received help from the Mecklenburg and Rowan county chapters. After the required training to run the organization and after receiving the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt license, Sellers was ready to do her part in running the organization and collecting toys.
“We had so many people calling and asking for help at Christmas time (last year),” Sellers said.
“I got so many calls, I think like 200 calls one year. I was unable to help them.
“So I looked into finding a way to help them and found out I could be a coordinator and join Toys for Tots. I’ve learned about them and it’s actually a great organization.”
Sellers wanted to help around 200 children last year but the need grew to 637 when all was said and done. Toys for Tots in Charlotte initially helped and gave Sellers the drive and information needed to start an organization of her own.
“The way the Toys for Tots program works, they want each county to actually support itself,” Sellers said.
“They want the community to support it and they are there if I fall short.
“I got outstanding support last year. We helped 637 kids and Charlotte, I had to get some help from them. But it pretty much sustained itself. That was a pretty good inclination that we were ready for it and that there was a need for it.”
Sellers sets up spots for toys to be donated and then she and other volunteers collects them. The toys are sorted by age and gender and then identified by who needs them. Distribution will happen again this year right before Christmas.
“Everybody who supported me last year is supporting us this year,” Sellers said.
“The same businesses are collecting toys for me and I see more signing up this year since we got an earlier start.
“I didn’t start last year until late, so I’m getting a lot of requests. A lot of people I didn’t have to reach out to, they reached out to me. They called me and asked ‘Are you going to be doing this again?’ So it’s something the community is supporting and that’s very good.
“That’s my main job … toys. I’m Santa.”
For more information or to contribute, call (704) 422-4044 or contact Sellers at email@example.com. You can also visit the organization’s website, badin-nc.toysfor tots.org.